"Stars Line Up For Hedwig, the New Rocky Horror"
The Independent, September 10, 2000
Not since The Rocky Horror Picture Show has glam-rock gender-bending been so cool on the British stage. Unlikely though it may seem, the latest hot ticket for those in the know is a rock musical about a sexually abused East German transsexual GI bride.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch became a cult in the United States where it toured for more than two years, drawing a star-studded audience that included Alanis Morrissette, Michael Keaton and Madonna. David Bowie, who co-produced the transfer to Los Angeles from New York, called it "the most captivating piece of rock theatre I've seen in years".
New Line Cinema, producers of Austin Powers, have just begun editing the film version in the States, after beating off competition from film-makers that included the company owned by the rock star Michael Stipe of REM for the rights.
Now the show is previewing in London's West End. Jude Law, new Hollywood golden boy in the wake of The Talented Mr Ripley, has already called for tickets. Jeremy Irons and Julian Clary have booked theirs too.
Andrew Fell, the British producer of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, is now nervously hoping that Britain will be able to cope with a show that fits no known categories.
"I describe it as a 90-minute rock concert," he said, "and between the songs, the lead singer (Hedwig) narrates the story of his life.
"It's incredibly moving and funny, but extreme, to say the least. It's got edge. I think the audiences will get it even more than in America men dressing up in frocks is a very old tradition in this country."
In Britain Michael Cerveris, who starred in the musical Tommy on Broadway, will take over from the show's creator, John Cameron Mitchell, as Hedwig. She begins life in Germany as Hansel but wants to marry a US army corporal, so has a sex-change. That goes wrong hence the angry inch of the title and a trail of melodramatic woe ensues.
A spokesman for the show, which has its first night at The Playhouse theatre in Northumberland Avenue on Tuesday week, said Hedwig had attracted a very young and a gay audience in America. "It did what the West End is desperately trying to do drag a new audience in."
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